All-inclusives lure travelers with one rate that covers rooms, meals, activities, and typically alcohol, but they’re often huge mega-resorts with cookie-cutter decor and underwhelming food. Boutique hotels, meanwhile, offer a stylish design in a small setting, allowing for more impressive cuisine and an intimate stay. We set out to find the best of both worlds: boutique properties with 100 or fewer rooms and all-inclusive packages. From Mexico to Bali, here are the best boutique all-inclusive hotels around the world.
The Brando is one of the world's most exclusive private island retreats, located near Tahiti. Named in honor of actor Marlon Brando, who purchased the island after falling in love with the destination during the filming of "Mutiny on the Bounty," the resort harbors 35 private villas with plunge pools and direct access to empty stretches of pristine white-sand beach. The no-expenses-spared all-inclusive services include cuisine from a Michelin two-star chef, one treatment per day at a holistic spa, and unlimited activities, from exploring the lagoon in a Polynesian outrigger canoe to attending lectures about local marine life.
Casa Velas is a gated, 80-room adults-only all-inclusive hotel in the posh Marina Vallarta community, surrounded by a golf course. It's one of the area's top options and stands out for its personalized service (staffers often know guests by name) and its truly peaceful, uncrowded vibe, which can be hard to find at an all-inclusive property. Huge rooms have tasteful Mexican style, and some have private hot tubs or plunge pools. Property features include a large freeform pool with a swim-up bar, a second pool at the hotel's private (off-site) beach club, two restaurants (gourmet Mexican cuisine on site, and Asian fusion at the beach club), a nice spa and gym, and golf privileges at Marina Vallarta Golf Club.
With its upscale boutique vibe and dramatic cliffside setting, The Caves is considered one of Jamaica's most romantic escapes. The 11 unique, private cottages and suites at this upscale all-inclusive property unfold along lush garden paths and seaside cliffs carved with steep stairways down to the water and into incredible grottos. There's a clifftop bar, a grotto bar, and private candlelit cave dining on offer. Top-notch food celebrates local ingredients, and the scene is laid-back and bohemian -- suited to travelers who appreciate outdoor showers and artful decor in favor of conventional luxury.
Gili Lankanfushi is widely considered to be the top resort in the Maldives, and for good reason. This stunning, 46-villa, eco-friendly resort lies just 20 minutes from the airport and succeeds in delivering truly unpretentious, relaxed luxury. Bare feet are encouraged (shoes are removed as soon as guests get on the boat from the airport), and each guest is taken care of by a personal butler with the title Mr. Friday. The spacious, charmingly simple overwater bungalows are made of several types of wood, and have outdoor (and rooftop!) decks with views that might induce tears of joy. On land, the beautiful island with 683 palm trees offers a range of activities and dining options. This special gem in the Maldives has more authenticity than other brand-name resorts of the same price point -- just ask tennis pro Novak Djokovic, practically a regular here.
The 50-room Oberoi, Lombok is a luxury property set on 24 acres with a private beach and serene atmosphere. The hotel's large lagoon pool is a relaxing space and the spa has outdoor treatment rooms and a gym, plus there's a tennis court. Two open-air pavilion restaurants provide serene views and sometimes have live entertainment. Rooms are housed in spacious thatched-roof pavilions and have flat-screen TVs, terraces overlooking the gardens or sea, and soaking tubs in open-air bathrooms. Villas offer additional luxury with private gardens or pools. Snorkeling is also available at the water-sports shack and the hotel can arrange boat trips to the Gili Islands.
Crowded beaches are unheard of on this private island resort where a maximum of 28 guests at a time have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Personal boats for daily excursions, on-call service, spacious villas with fully stocked kitchens and wet bars, and a host of all-inclusive activities make Fowl Cay Resort a standout gem in the Exumas. Each villa also includes a spacious living room and multiple private terraces and decks. All meals and beverages (top-shelf liquor, wine, and beer) are included.
Jade Mountain is one of the most romantic resorts not only in the Caribbean, but the world, thanks to its incredible Piton views and extraordinary design. The 29 enormous suites, called "sanctuaries," are hands-down the highlight; through the innovative, open fourth wall, each has a view of the sea from the entire room -- from the canopied bed, raised whirlpool tub, and (in all but the entry-level category) private infinity pool. Organic cuisine is served from a chic open-air restaurant, and guests can expect unwavering peace and quiet throughout (there are no TVs or children). Though there is no beach, guests can take a short shuttle ride or hike down to use the two beaches, free water sports, and dive center at sister property Anse Chastanet.
On the southeast coast of Zanzibar, Baraza Resort & Spa is among the island's most opulent, all-inclusive places to lay your head at night. This gorgeous five-pearl resort has 30 elegant villas, all of which have their own private plunge pools. Along with a few restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, the hotel offers a water sports center, an incredible spa, fitness center, pool, and a kids' club. Overall, it's a beautiful and romantic place to stay, but expect to pay a premium.
A top-notch five-pearl luxury boutique, Kandolhu Maldives is home to 30 villas, all featuring private sundecks and sea views. Surrounded by a fish-filled house reef and close to good dive spots, it's a good option for underwater lovers -- and it offers various packages, including an all-inclusive plan. This small, screensaver-come-to-life island has four a la carte restaurants, a relaxing beachside bar, spa, dive center, library lounge, and state-of-the-art gym. Favoring couples, this idyllic island is set up for privacy, limited social interaction, and relaxation. Upscale and contemporary styled rooms are outfitted with all the trimmings -- from fluffy towels to wine fridges -- and can feature outdoor bathrooms, private beach areas, and personal dipping pools.
A peaceful and beautiful resort, The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was designed to be a true escape for couples and small groups that want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy a quiet experience. For adults only, the intimate hotel (maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs and Caribbean. The hotel's gorgeous design and luxurious treatments make it a great upscale option for weddings, health and wellness retreats, and special events, as well as travelers that simply want to escape and unwind in a tropical setting.
Cobblers Cove is a boutique luxury hideaway that blends British Colonial elegance with Caribbean island chic on a pristine (albeit narrow) aqua beachfront. Set amongst lush gardens, 44 delightful suites feature separate living areas and folding doors that lead to large patios with panoramic views. An intimate atmosphere and exceptional service attract many return guests, as does Camelot -- revered as one of the island's finest restaurants. Perks like free water sports (including waterskiing), afternoon tea in the grand Great House, and luxurious touches like twice-daily maid service merely hint at the delicious surprises on offer here. The vibe is typically calm and classy, but peace-seeking adults may be advised to stay during the adults-only period from January through March.
Right off the beach in a secluded area 15 minutes north of Playa del Carmen's center, the 23-room Le Reve Hotel & Spa has an instantly relaxing vibe well-suited to couples and honeymooners. The boutique hotel's interiors are upscale and stylish after a 2014 makeover. Rooms have lots of special elements ranging from hand-painted tiles to plunge pools, though dim lighting can be a downside -- as can the price of cabs to and from Playa proper. However, positive features include the (unsupervised) kids' club, pool bar, massage area, classy sports bar, and impressive gourmet restaurant menu.
The Samabe Bali is an ultra-luxurious beachfront resort located atop a cliff a five-minute drive from central Nusa Dua. Its 81 suites and villas are elegant and stylish, with a gorgeous blend of contemporary and traditional Indonesian decor, top-notch amenities, and balconies offering expansive ocean views. Villas have private infinity pools and up to two bedrooms. With a private beach, a wonderful spa, two excellent restaurants, a gorgeous infinity pool, a kids' club, and tons of daily activities, there is little guests can't do on-site. Plus, all-inclusive rates cover everything from free daily spa treatments to cultural tours to beachside yoga classes.
Open only to guests ages 16 and older, the luxurious Villa Premiere offers the best of two Puerto Vallarta worlds: it's both a beachfront all-inclusive and an urban boutique. One of the few beaches near town -- Playa Camarones -- is directly in front of the hotel, and downtown Puerto Vallarta is just seven blocks away. Even with its small size, the 80-room Villa has an attractive resort package -- a compact, but still luxurious, version of what you get at many of the mega-sized resorts several miles north, including a gym, spa, two pools, three restaurants (the all-inclusive plan is optional), and 24-hour room service. The contemporary, sophisticated rooms all have balconies with ocean views.
The luxurious Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort is truly a stunner. It has arguably the best location on St. Lucia, right in between the Pitons, St. Lucia's famous volcanic spires, and on a beautiful white-sand beach. Its 79 rooms are minimalistic, chic, and mostly white, and all come with private plunge pools, butlers, and 24-hour room service; the larger villas and cottages offer living rooms and huge bathrooms (some with outdoor showers and hot tubs). Features include a family-friendly pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and free water sports. The romantic tree-house spa is one of the island's best. The resort's restaurants and bars are pricey, but all-inclusive rates are available to help guests keep costs in check.
The Zoetry Agua is one of the most luxurious and tranquil all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. The rustic ambience and zen energy are on the opposite end of the spectrum from what you'll find at the booze-fueled all-inclusives around Bavaro. Instead, Zoetry offers an uncrowded white-sand beach, 96 spacious suites with butler service, a long pristine pool, and one of the area's best spas. The resort prides itself on offering Endless Privileges, which includes no formal check-in/check-out times, limitless top-shelf liquor, and free laundry services on top of four gourmet a la carte restaurants (no buffets), a cafe, and three bars (one swim-up). Guests also get a free 20-minute massage and free horseback riding session on the beach. It's a 45-minute drive from the airport -- about as far as you can get in Punta Cana.
This 20-room sub-resort shares a private island with Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, which means guests can take advantage of the larger property's plentiful amenities. Prestige Water Villas offers nice perks such as all-inclusive food and drinks, butler service, a free massage, private beach dinner, snorkeling excursion, and introductory dive. Covered in hardwood from floor to ceiling, each Water Villa features a king bed and minimalist furniture; the beds and sofas are adorned in shades of cream and white. The large deck in every unit has a daybed, jetted tub, steps descending into the lagoon, and a glass panel for viewing fish.
A tranquil oasis set on 140 untouched tropical acres on the island's western shore, the luxury all-inclusive Hermitage Bay offers 30 suites in individual cottages, all with private terraces, outdoor showers, deep soaking tubs, and sea views. Air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and minibars come standard. Chic hillside suites feature private plunge pools and panoramic views. There's an open-air restaurant with rotating menus and a relaxed bar offering nightly entertainment. High-end amenities include an infinity pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga and cooking classes, and water sports at the pristine white-sand beach. The secluded spa offers massages and treatments for a fee. Rates include airport transfers and parking, though premium wines and spirits are extra. Kids aged 14 and up are welcome.
The five-pearl Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel is an adults-only boutique resort offering exceptional serenity. The resort's 67 rooms and suites are beautifully appointed with colonial-inspired decor and furnished balconies or patios -- all with views of the hotel's private cove. The cove itself features a sandy beach, but most guests prefer to spend their days on the private peninsula, where there are secluded hangout spots, a stunning infinity pool, a boathouse with free water sports, and a casual beach restaurant and bar -- all overlooking the lagoon and the islands of the north. On land, you can expect an open-air spa; daily activities, like yoga and bike tours; and three classy restaurants and a lounge with evening music.
One of the most charming all-inclusive properties on the island, the upscale Cocobay Resort is a romantic, adults-only clifftop oasis with sweeping views of Valley Church Bay. Colorful cottages offer 65 rustic-chic rooms featuring private balconies with hammocks and Adirondack chairs. Free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, mini-fridges, and bathrooms with open-air showers come standard, but there are no TVs. Upgraded rooms add luxe perks like private pools or outdoor clawfoot bathtubs. There are two restaurants, including the trendy Sheer Rocks Restaurant (not part of the all-inclusive rate). Certain menu items and wines also cost extra. Other high-end amenities include three bars, four infinity pools, three beautiful white-sand beaches, a tranquil cliffside spa, and non-motorized water sports.